mikebarrett

Apr 06

L.A. and Ray Save the Day

By mikebarrett

It had the look of another one of those games.  Fight hard, hang close, get a bad break on a call, give up a huge bucket, fail to answer, and walk out of the arena thinking about what might have been.  But, this time, it was different.  There was a controversial call, that much held true, but this time the Blazers got the big rebounds, played solid defense, and yes, hit the big shot.

Back on February 11th, in Dallas, the Trail Blazers took the defending champs to double overtime.  They had their chances in that game too.  In fact, Jamal Crawford had a long shot that would have won the game at the end of the first overtime.  That one didn’t go. 

Tonight, LaMarcus Aldridge, playing in front of family, friends, his mother, and his young son, LaMarcus Jr., hit perhaps the biggest shot of his still-young career.  It was a buzzer-beating, game-winning shot, in a hostile environment.  For an NBA player, it doesn’t get any better than that.  The fact that it happened in his home town, made the story that much sweeter.

But, for as much as LaMarcus is deserving of the “hero” title in this game, and he is, it’s a shared honor on this night.  That’s because Raymond Felton was as good as we’ve ever seen Raymond Felton.  He kept the Blazers in this game, single-handedly at times, and brought his team back from 15 points down.  He played great defense, he rebounded, he distributed, and he hit shot after shot after shot.

Felton, who’s undoubtedly playing his best basketball of the season right now, would really be on a roll if it hadn’t been for the way the Utah game ended on Monday night.  But, the fact that he put that behind him so quickly, had a solid game against New Jersey on Wednesday, and then came through in flying colors in this night, shows at the very least he’s resilient. 

Ray’s stat line on this night surprised everyone but Ray.  He ended with a season-high 30 points, hit 12 of his 18 shots (including 5 for 8 from three), grabbed 7 rebounds, dished out 6 assists, and turned the ball over only twice.  In a memorable third quarter, Felton had 12 of Portland’s last 14 points of the quarter, as the Blazers ended the quarter on a 20-3 run and carried a 74-66 lead into the final 12 minutes.

Dallas then, desperately needing this game, came out firing in the fourth.  They had just watched the Blazers score the final 16 points of the third quarter, and quickly reeled off the first 11 points of the fourth to claim a 77-75 lead.  That run took place with Felton on the bench.  When he returned to the game, he quickly restored order and put the Blazers back on top.  Then, it was time for a furious finish.

Both teams had opportunities to win the game in regulation, and when it was sent to overtime the Trail Blazers realized that to win, they’d have to do something they hadn’t done this season.  They came into this game 0-3 in games decided by overtime, and were 4-12 in games decided by 5 points or less.  But, the memories of all of the heartbreaking losses didn’t seem to bother them on this night. 

Following a Shawn Marion basket that tied the game at 97 in the second overtime, the Trail Blazers took possession and Dallas used it’s foul to disrupt Portland’s final play.  The Blazers took the ball out with 3.7 seconds left- not much time to set for a final look.  It didn’t turn out to be a complicated play.  LaMarcus Aldridge received the inbounds pass, took his time, used his patented turn-and-fade shot and drilled the game winner as the final horn sounded. 

“I wasn’t in a hurry, that was the key,” Aldridge told me on the team plane before we left Dallas.  “I didn’t want there to be any time left on the clock.  I knew how much time we had, and I didn’t want to give them a chance to win it.  I was either going to hit the shot, or we were going to a second overtime.  That was it.” 

A second overtime wasn’t necessary.

Dallas isn’t one of Portland’s main rivals in the Western Conference, but wow, have these teams played some great games the last few seasons.  And, they’ll meet again at the Rose Garden next week.

Now, we’re headed for Milwaukee, and the players are buzzing about continuing this effort to build momentum as the end of the season quickly approaches. 

One other thing should be pointed out.  This was a big win for interim coach Kaleb Canales.  Aldridge wasn’t the only one with family members in the stands.  Canales, who grew up in Texas, had a stack of tickets ready before the game.  As special as it was to win this in front of so many people close to him, he’s now 7-6 as the head coach, with wins at Chicago and Dallas.  If his hat is seriously going to be tossed into the ring to be the permanent head coach of this team, a win like this doesn’t hurt his chances.

As we’ve said on many occasions, there isn’t much margin for error left for the Trail Blazers, if they want to achieve their goal of rallying to make the playoffs.  As Canales always says, they’ll enjoy this until 12:01, and then start thinking about the Milwaukee Bucks.

 

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22 Comments

  1. Hi Mike: Wow glad to get a win. Two wins in a row is also another record for coach K. I have been one of the I don't like Ray. and I am not sure I trust him yet, but he has been more of what I thought he would be.
    I almost broke my wife's ear drums when LMA shot went in.
    You should have heard the Mavs announcers when they give Dallas the ball out of bounds when their TV distinctly showed Marion touched it last. They couldn't believe it either, and came out and said so. I just said the refs took another one away from us.

    by Hg on 4/6/2012 10:08 PM
  2. What a win! For once it came out in our favor despite all odds! The refs tried to sink us again, but the good guys still managed to prevail. All us live chatters went crazy, the good kind of crazy thankfully. Pure karma. Refs blatantly try to cheat us and the karma boomerang comes barreling back! Awesome. Lol. And that pic definitely says it all. :) Though the one with Ray jumping around like a hyper excited kid works too!

    by Niki C on 4/6/2012 11:33 PM
  3. That shot was huge for Aldridge's confidence going forward. And to do it in front of his family in his hometown makes it sweeter. I sent Aldridge a tweet congratulating him on his shot and how happy I was that his mother beat cancer.

    Now, about that out of bounds call that the refs didn't over turn. What's ironic is that over at RealGM, the Mavs fans were even saying that the Blazers got ripped off by that call. It's stuff like that where people are going to think there's a fix going on in the NBA with the refs. It is a head scratcher when the replay shows it is suppose to be Blazer and all three referees say it's Dallas ball. How??? I still remember how bad the officiating was in Game 1 at Dallas during the playoffs last year that somewhat set the tone for the series.

    Did you guys know that the Blazer record would be 29-27, not 27-29 if the officials didn't mess up two game endings with the Thunder (the goal tending call) and the Clippers recently where Matthews was fouled. I know Wesley would have made his foul shots and won the game for the Blazers. So in my mind it should be 29-27, which would have put the Blazers in the 9th spot in the standings instead of the 11th.

    by Shem on 4/7/2012 12:58 AM
  4. i'm a harsh critic of felton but today my hat goes off to him. the felton i saw tonight was the same felton i saw hurt us when he was wearing a jersey of another team. his outside shot completely opened our inside game and allowed more penetration opportunities.

    i haven't seen the box score stats on hickson tonight and i doubt they were impressive but all of the intangibles he brought were huge. the dude works, bangs, cuts, and crashes the boards relentlessly.

    the whole team was cutting and slashing to the hoop. only good things can happen with that kind of movement.

    congratulations to aldridge! i honestly can't remember him hitting a game winner at the buzzer. he played big and physical tonight and i'm thrilled to see him close a game in this fashion. now he knows he can do this.

    great energy, great effort, great game!

    go blazers!

    by thedanman on 4/7/2012 1:17 AM
  5. Keys the game - Stephen Herr doesn't watch.

    Can't comment much, since I was more interested in seeing OKC get their butts handed to them the third time in a row, and was watching the scoreboard to make sure Spurs land the top spot. Gotta love Patty, and I've always respected the Spurs, glad they're on top. I didn't even realize there was a Blazer game going on until I saw the halftime score. I thought the game was tomorrow, and started at 7. So I was shocked, but the halftime score didn't surprise me. I did some things, got stuff done, and saw the game close. Knowing me, whenever I see a team that shouldn't win leading near the end, I start watching and it appears to jinx it. So, I chose not to do that. I watched the final score, saw it tied at 3.7 seconds, and then saw it say 0.0 time left and Portland had 99 and Dallas had only 97. And since Twitter is such a useful tool, I got to see LaMarcus make the shot.

    I know I don't want to fight for the playoffs since I'd rather take the pick and leave (I mean, look at what OKC did and look where they're at with such youth), but these are the types of games I love winning. I HATE Dallas and would have been much happier with Miami winning last season, and I hate that the Blazers blew a huge opportunity last season. I still think they could have won that series. But, Game 1 changed everything, thanks to the officiating.

    But I am damn glad it was LaMarcus making that jumper. I doubted his clutch ability, and I still kind of do, but this is a huge boost for him and the Blazers organization.

    I'm also glad to see Felton's stock rising. I like the guy, but games like these don't bring back wins against Utah and other games he dribbled the ball off his foot. I'm not a Felton hater, but I doubt he's a keeper in the front office eyes.

    Looked like a great game. I enjoyed watching the recap on NBA.com.

    by Herr on 4/7/2012 3:41 AM
  6. So, where has this Felton been. Is he auditioning for a contract with someone else now that he's put our season in sewer?

    by Ancientone on 4/7/2012 5:08 AM
  7. Ancientone: I think we are all wondering that. Do you supposed the whole year was a planned wreck? You can almost be assured that Felton has already bought a ticket out of town, so I am not sure if playing good would make a difference to the Blazers at this point. So if he can actually turn it on as planned at this stage of the season makes me not want him back even more.

    But then again I am a Blazer fan until the end; you and I have seen many years like this one, so regardless of the reason, he is still a Blazer so I am glad he helped us with a win.

    by Hg on 4/7/2012 5:53 AM
  8. Felton keeps playing like this and I guess Im gonna have to let him out of the doghouse. I still dont know about him, but you cant deny he played a fantastic game, and lately hes been quite good.

    LMA! oh yeah :) he has been playing great, I wanted them to go through LA the first time when Crawford had it. Anyways he made the game winner, we need to go to him more in the closing minutes.

    That call was just horrible!...way too obvious. You know I watch other teams play on tv quite often, and I honestly can say I dont see other teams get the bad calls like the Blazers get consistently. Did you look at the refs faces moments after they called it Dallas ball? Ive seen that face before, its when people know their doing something that is wrong and untrue, least thats how I saw it.

    by whitefeather21380 on 4/7/2012 6:31 AM
  9. Lamarcus= awesome... as ALWAYS! ;)

    I was 1 of the few Felton supporters when he was getting beat up & then when he started producing, even I was saying let him go after this season (the BIG reason why I said this is bc of the flexibility our Blazers gain if we did & then also, I couldn't tell if he genuinely loves this team or was/is he playing for a contract); w/ that said, I still felt/feel that as a player, he WAS/IS what the Blazers need (I've also said we don't need a scoring pg; I STILL believe this BUT to have 1 doesn't hurt & last night... he came up BIG & we NEEDED that scoring to win despite the strong play of LMA; also I said this bc @ the very most basic level, we don't need a scoring pg, 1 whose primary style of play is to pass & then score occasionally will get this club VERY far/MAYBE even far enough & enhancing other positions will make up for the scoring dearth from not having a scoring pg for cheaper). SO... about letting Felton go after this season... I MAY have changed my mind on that bc LOOK @ him in the picture above, THAT doesn't look like a guy who doesn't want to be here or that lacks pride/drive for winning! A picture tells a thousand words AND perhaps tells us everything we need 2 know about where this man's heart/mind r; also, I don't question these things or chemistry Felton has w/ this team bc of not only the picture above but I also saw the WHOLE game last night & @ after the game was over & the celebrating began, THAT was the MOST important thing to me, the camaraderie & UNITED joy on display. Felton, IF u try to play like u did & be who u were last night everyday, not only will the fans embrace u & you'll return as a Blazer next yr. but you'll be a Blazer forever.

    by Simpson on 4/7/2012 6:55 AM
  10. I had a softball game last night and then my sister's birthday party and did not get to watch the game other than the highlight videos and Aldridge's game winner. It sounds like a tough grinding win. That is what we needed. It is a win which proves to the guys they can do it. It sounds like a confidence builder to me.

    I could probably repeat my comment from the last blog when it comes to Felton. I know he did not play all that great before the coaching change but I think he has played really well since Coach Canales took over. The only real negative since then was when he dribbled the ball off his foot against Utah. After that, everyone wanted to throw him under the bus for just that play. I do not excpect Felton to be back next year but that is more for the salary flexibility than his play. The truth of the matter is Felton was on a leash with Coach McMillan and he is not under Coach Canales.

    Coach Canales should be seriously considered as the next permanent head coach. He has done a very good job of making the team competitive. We have lost some games we would liked to have won but you have to look at all he has had to deal with. His job has changed, there have been roster subractions and additions, the officials stole at least one of these games, he has played younger and unproven guys and he has played guys like Flynn and Thabeet to see what they might have to offer us next year. He has dealt with a lot in these 13 games and has done really well. I know some people have questioned why he was chosen over some of the more experienced assistant coaches and my dad and I came to the agreement it is because out of all of them, Coach Canales is the only one who would be considered as a future head coach for is. Nothing against Bickerstaff or Oceipka but they were not going to become head coach for next season. Coach Canales has a chance at that.

    Hg: I should respond to what you said from last blog. Kassandra has told me she appreciates the debates with you. I think that is cool. I am different. I am not looking to debate. I am definitely not a debater. I am more of an information gatherer and I will usually put out my opinion once and leave it there. I just thought you should know. You should also know that I like the conversasional parts of blog commenting with you.

    by Angi on 4/7/2012 8:01 AM
  11. Angi: your post was very enlightening, great job.
    Kassandra was also a great information gatherer, although she is kind to me, I had a feeling at times she got irritated at me for my debating technique. But after I told her that it was my way of picking her brain and learning then she more or less became my teacher with debates. I just love what she has done for me.
    You have hit my feelings about Kaleb right on the head, so there is no debate whatsoever there.
    On Raymond, I am still skeptical, I am not sure of his intent and I don't trust him,but for whatever the reason for his new play, whether it be selfish, because Kaleb reached down and rescued him, or he is finally getting into BB shape; the fact that he is still a Blazer and I am a vivid Blazer fan, I am delighted in what he brought to the BlazerFandom last night and almost everynight since Kaleb tookover. I am still not a Raymond lover, but he gets a pass from me from throwing him under the bus.

    by Hg on 4/7/2012 8:32 AM
  12. It was another great game and a blast to watch, albeit a nail biter. Loved the end stats were we had more second chance shots than they did. That's been a while in coming but oh the payoff. If I were Coach K, I would have left jj in longer. Seems our rebounding is better when he is in the game. If Dallas hadn't gone so flat at the end, I am not so sure we would have won it.
    I don't think we needed both Nic and Wesley in at that point. They were not long on shooting for the eve and certainly didn't do much in the final few minutes. Hat's off to Raymond fr making the win possible and to LA for taking the shot and seeing it in. You go boys!

    by allie-oop on 4/7/2012 9:26 AM
  13. allie-oop: I thought especially Batum was a big factor in the game. he was rebounding and passing the rock for open shots. They both were disrupting Dallas Offense, which helped their draught the last qtr. Wesley was on Marion all night, and although Marion burned him a few times, he kept him at bay. Marion is like Dirk you can't stop him you just try to control him.

    To my knowledge Babbitt didn't try a three all night, that may have been because they had him scouted well and was pushing him off the three point line. The Mavs announcers was commenting on how good he was getting, and they commented on JJ also, so in defense of the Blazers, if they go out to stop one player another is going to get more looks. As an example they were not worried about Felton because he has been off most of the year so they slacked off him and Bang, he burns them. OTOH, they were worried about Crawford getting going, Batum getting his and Wesley's threes. Dallas has a very well oiled defensive team and their strategy wasn't bad they just picked their poison. ON this night, it didn't pay off. but if they had gone out to stop Felton, I would bet the house that Wheels don't own that Batum would have stepped up big time. That is because Batum is a team player and conceded to the hot hand of Felton; that is good for me.

    by Hg on 4/7/2012 9:45 AM
  14. Rebounds-rebounds-rebounds. They are finally getting the message. It didn't matter who got the rebound, the Blazers were surrounding the boards.
    Batum is averaging 10 boards in the last 3 games.
    Good job LMA. You have earned it and deserved it.
    Rebounding won this game. We made some shots as well.
    Not to take anything away from the Blazers but something is wrong with Dallas. Could be Kidd was out.
    If we could somehow get this win tonight the chatter will start.
    GO BLAZERS!!

    by Divotking on 4/7/2012 2:29 PM
  15. all right you too (Angi & Hg). enough with the mutual admiration society. i'm glad i could be of so much blazer help to both of you. i love to debate and i think it's a reason i am interested in a career in law. anyway ...

    in the now, Ray is playing well enough to help us to a 7-6 record since the coaching change. as Angi mentioned, Kaleb & the team have gone through a lot and have been trying to accomplish a lot. all things considered, the team has done pretty well. i don't think Ray is in our long-term plans, unless we fail to find a better option through the draft or the early stages of free agency. that being said, i don't expect him to be a blazer next season.

    put me in the camp of those who wish to see Kaleb strongly considered for our permanent coach. i think that decision is quite a way off. reaching the playoffs would be huge on his resume, but a winning record would go a long way. that basically means going at least 5-5 in these last 10 games. personally, i'd like to see us win more than that. time will tell.

    impressive win last night, and it really doesn't get any better than seeing LaMarcus hit that jumper at the end of the overtime -- in his hometown, with his family there. it just doesn't get any better than that. Nicolas did a lot of the things we needed him to do (scoring wasn't one of those things on this particular night). he was rebounding, dishing out assists and playing that defense of which we've become accustomed from him. even Hasheem was productive in his 8-1/2 minutes on the court.

    two in a row for the first time in 38 games is great, but three would be even better.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 4/7/2012 2:37 PM
  16. Is this the real Raymond Felton? If so, should a long-term solution at Center be job 1 this summer rather than a PG? If Felton has really arrived in Portland and can continue his play of late, it makes sense to try to sign him.
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 4/7/2012 9:27 PM
  17. don;
    I still don't think so. He would come to camp out of shape.
    If things don't go as Raymond wants does he not bring the effort, again.
    We need to think big, Raymond is serviceable.

    by Divotking on 4/8/2012 6:28 AM
  18. 5 turnovers against the Bucks. 4-11 shooting, Felton for whatever reason is fools gold too. LMA only 3 rebounds and his opposite pf gets 12. Come on LMA I'll give you a pass in that you played 45 min. the night before but he played the the night before too.

    by Ancientone on 4/8/2012 6:38 AM
  19. Hey Miss Kassandra: I wrote you last night, but it must have gotten lost in cyberspace, Or maybe I forgot to push Post after I spelled check; I do that quite often.
    BTW, fat chance of getting Angi and I, to quit admiring the the wisdom you teach. Deep down inside don't you just love it LOL? Every celebrity needs a fanbase. Oh I forgot, you don't think you are a celebrity You are my celebrate though so you will have to suffer TEE Hee

    by Hg on 4/8/2012 11:00 AM
  20. The Rockets should have a very strong rebounding team with Scola and Camby. I see that Camby may not play. If he does someone needs to block out those two off the boards.

    by Ancientone on 4/9/2012 9:06 AM
  21. Also Nic is a game time decision with tendonitis; we may have to depend on Babbitt.
    We need scoring from our back court tonight. How much faith have we in Jamal, Matthews and Raymond with a little Flynn, pun intended, Do we have?
    Camby may not play because of a sore wrist. If that happens what are the chances of us using JJ more?

    by Hg on 4/9/2012 10:01 AM
  22. Camby will play. His wrist has been hurting for a few games now. I doubt he will miss playing against Blazers.
    Batum is a question. He also has been playing hurt for a few games. Any day now management will be positioning for the draft. If they hold Batum out, it may mark the beginning of that.

    by Divotking on 4/9/2012 11:55 AM
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